As most of you know by now, I have somewhat of a man crush on Jensen Cummings. Don't giggle. The guy represents everything that the food scene in Denver should be. Let me start by explaining how I met Jensen. A while back, I asked Troy Guard if I could spend a night staging in TAG's kitchen. Not because I wanted to work there, but simply because I love cooking. What better way to learn more about one of my biggest passions then to hang out in one of Denver's best kitchens?

Troy was nice enough to take it easy on me. I did have to work, as any eager young cook would have to, but the end of the night was pretty lax. In fact, the last hour of the night I hung out with the Chef de Cuisine of TAG, one Jensen Cummings. Instead of having a strained look on his face as I peppered him with questions, he just smiled, cooked and explained everything I wanted to know. You see, Jensen isn't a cocky, holier-than-thou chef. He's a guy who loves food and beer, and loves sharing that passion with the people in his community. He's not a part of the cool crowd, he wants you to be the cool crowd.  Hence, my man crush.

Since that night at TAG, I've hung out with Jensen a few times. I staged one night at Row 14, went to a media dinner, and had a few random run ins. The guy is always smiling, always has some new crazy food project going, and is always excited to share his passion with you. With that being said, the second Jensen mentioned his new project, an all meatball restaurant, I was more than intrigued.

The Slotted Spoon opened just a few months ago and it's already graced my belly with ball shaped goodness (stop laughing) on multiple occasions. The menu is pretty easy to understand, pick a ball, pick a vessel, pick a sauce. They also have a sandwich menu too if you panic at the site of too many choices. Both times I've been, I opted for a sandwich off their sandwich menu.

The first time I went the Chicken Picnic sandwich adorned with honey jalapeno BBQ sauce, California slaw, and some provolone (which happens to be one of my favorite sandwich cheeses). In all honesty, I ordered this sub because I thought that a chicken meatball would be the true test of Jensen's meatball chefery. I personally don't like the texture of ground chicken. In fact, if you mention chicken sausage in my presence, 9/10 we're going to be having words outside. The other one time I'll be too tipsy to care. Don't judge. However, this texture didn't offend me, in fact, I actually enjoyed it. It was moist and tender, and didn't have that poultry gaminess that comes with grinding. On top of that, it was well seasoned with Adobo seasonings. Now, when you place that in a hoagie roll with provolone, some sweet BBQ sauce, and some ranch based crunchy slaw, you're in flavor country.

 

 

In accompaniment to my meatball sammie was a small bowl of home-style goodness, better known as mac-n-cheese. Oh wait. Let me correct myself, that's bacon mac-n-cheese. Now, if you order the mac, don't go in expecting some Frank Bonanno lobster mac that runs $17 per bite. Nothing against Frank and that dish of magic at Mizuna, but sometimes you just want a taste of home. Jensen's mac is made with 100% "Our gift to the culinary world" American cheese. His words, verbatim. While this may not impress some of you finer foodies, know this: the fresh jalapeno juice adds a flavorful kick that pairs incredibly well with the smoky bacon placed neatly atop that cheesy goodness. It's the perfect balance of home and epicurio.

 

 

Food aside, The Slotted Spoon has a cool thing going. Not only does it focus on local ingredients and vendors, but the design and atmosphere is comfortable, clean, and well put together. In fact, it's so well put together, that you could easily be fooled into thinking this was a chain. They spent ample time thinking this concept time, and it shows.

It's probably meal time for you right now, and hopefully you're thinking about The Slotted Spoon. However, you may still be considering Chipotle or Pei Wei. It's quick, easy, and they care about their food. I urge you to stop though, and think about going local. These guys have a very similar set of ideals. And really, don't you need some balls in your life? Yes, you may laugh at that one, as it was intended. Happy eating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous photography from the ever so talented Shanna Nichole.